Moon Cakes - Food and Drink

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

Moon Cakes
Food and Drink

The Chinese moon festival occurs annually on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The day is dedicated to Lady Chang’o, the beautiful woman in the moon. Lady Chang’o lives alone on the moon in a beautiful cinnamon wood palace, her sole companion an alchemist rabbit who grinds out the potion of immortality with his mortar and pestle.

The moon festival corresponds with the night when the moon is at its brightest and nearest Earth. On that night, Lady Chang’o reputedly grants secret wishes to those people who address them to her. Moon cakes are eaten to honor Lady Chang’o, to commemorate the holiday but also as part of the magic ritual of asking for one’s heart’s desire.

Moon Cake Ritual

1. Take a private moment to commune with the Full Moon.

2. Holding your moon cake in your hands, silently address Lady Chang’o: make your wish or invocation.

3. Eat the moon cake in the moonlight.

4. Thank Lady Chang’o in advance, but be sure to keep this wish secret.

Moon cakes are round cakes, usually stuffed with some kind of filling. They are eaten and given as gifts during the moon festival. The simplest cake features an egg-yolk filling believed to resemble a bright full moon. Alternative fillings include nuts, red bean paste, white lotus paste, and Chinese ham. In Chinese tradition, foods are highly symbolic; thus moon-cake fillings are adjusted to reflect one’s wishes. For instance, a watermelon seed filling indicates the wish to conceive.

Immediately preceding and during the moon festival, Chinese bakeries and specialty stores feature moon cakes, frequently beautifully packaged and intended as gifts.

See also Cakes, Lunar Foods.